The public cloud allows end-users to consume mission-critical services without involving traditional IT. At some point, though, end-users realize that the public cloud still requires IT skills or integration with on-premises IT systems.
The public cloud has had a definitive impact on enterprise IT operations. If your organization hasn’t fully migrated to the public cloud, you may experience challenges. Whether the need is to integrate Infastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings, such as AWS® or Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings, such as Workforce, the resulting environment complicates IT operations.
Therefore, you’ve been “voluntold” to embrace cloud at some level. Some aspects of your infrastructure remain in a traditional infrastructure while another part runs on cloud infrastructure.
Or, you are proactive and want to help ensure that your organization prepares for digital transformation. The result? You must embrace hybrid IT. What does that mean for the network, storage, compute, monitoring, and staff? This eBook tackles each of these areas. The desire is to give you, the reader, real-world examples of these challenges. Further, the goal is to tell you what worked and didn’t work. So, you’ll get a lot of irst person references referring to the author.
Chapter 1: Defining Hybrid IT
It’s critical for infrastructure teams to develop a hybrid IT strategy. If you doubt your environment has a hybrid IT infrastructure, chances are you are wrong. Hybrid IT isn’t limited to the vision of a single pane of glass that allows you to seamlessly move workloads from your data center into a public cloud service. Commonly referred to as hybrid cloud or cloud bursting, this vision is a bit of a unicorn. The cloud-bursting idea originates from the way infrastructure teams design and manage data centers.
Hybrid IT is the integration of on-premises IT services and cloud-based services. Hybrid IT includes any combination of SaaS, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS), with traditional IT infrastructure. Think of something as simple as internet access. At one point in history, an internet outage remained an inconvenience to operating a business. Think of how many business processes and services depend on cloud-based applications today. If you lost access to the internet, what business processes suffer as a result?
Do you ind that when a service outage occurs, you spend more time figuring out the source of the outage instead of the steps to resolve the issue? For example, an end-user calls complaining about the inability to log into Saleforce®. Is the issue with Salesforce or is it your on-premises Active Directory® service?
Infrastructure professionals may irst consider their needs when thinking of cloud solutions. The first service to come to mind is IaaS vs. PaaS and SaaS. Amazon EC2® popularized the concept of virtual machine (VM) instances running in someone else’s data center. However, the impacting growth is happening outside of the virtual machine construct. Business users are beginning to consume cloud-based services directly. Cloud services operated and paid for directly by business entities is the new shadow IT.
From a simple perspective, end-users just want to get their jobs done. According to a survey conducted by SolarWinds, 74% of respondents migrated applications to the cloud. While the SolarWinds research is an impressive stat by itself, my experience bears out some of the drivers of the migration of applications to the cloud. From my experience, the key shift is the focus on the application. Public cloud offerings allow end-users to deploy applications and processes that allow them to compete within their industry.
The simple way to consume cloud is via SaaS and PaaS solutions. Look no further than Salesforce as an example. Salesforce has spawned an ecosystem that competes with Oracle® and SAP® business applications. Andreessen Horowitz® (A16) calls SaaS and PaaS the great equalizers. These services allow relatively small companies to leverage complex business processes, such as cash-to-order, logistics, and payment technologies, without the incredible startup costs and time associated with traditional infrastructure. Small startups disrupt previously entrenched incumbents, using the capability of the public cloud.
It’s this simple consumption combined with a signiicant business value that has driven the end-users to adopt SaaS and PaaS. These applications soon become mission critical. It’s not uncommon for an IT organization to discover they have a hybrid IT environment via a priority-1 (P1) ticket opened due to a cloud provider outage. While IT hadn’t offered the service directly, end-users see cloud services as an extension of services provided by IT.
Welcome to hybrid IT. Regardless if a measured deployment is forced upon you by the business, your environment is hybrid.
Chapter 2: The Hybrid Network
Networking is the foundation of a successful hybrid IT infrastructure. There are three options for connecting to a cloud provider’s infrastructure.
- Public internet
- Dedicated connection
I’ll provide an overview and example of each of the three, as well as some lessons learned.
In the public internet-based connectivity option, SaaS and PaaS application traffic traverses the public internet. Browser-based SSL encryption is used to provide a secure encrypted connection to the hosted data and applications.
One of my first experiences with hybrid IT involved a web-based leasing application. At the time, I worked for a large global bank. The real estate investment division managed approximately 110-properties thoughout the United States. From a pure legacy perspective, the environment offered a common operational challenge.